Annual Summer Scholar

CSP 19th Annual Summer Scholar

3-Part “Zoom Series”, live from Manhattan

PETER A. GEFFEN
12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT

Tuesday June 9, 2020 – A Young Jew in the Civil Rights Movement: A Personal Story from 1965-66
Wednesday June 10, 2020 – The Spiritual Humanism of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Part 1
Thursday June 11, 2020 – The Spiritual Humanism of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Part 2

This series is free of charge to CSP 5781 Members (to become a member, make your annual donation now at this link)
The cost to the general public is $36 for the series


 
A Young Jew in the Civil Rights Movement: A Personal Story From 1965-66
Tuesday June 9, 2020, 12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT

Peter Geffen will take us back to 1964 when 3 boys were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi one of whom was his classmate at Queens College, Andrew Goodman. He will explore the influence upon his life as a Jew and his work as a Jewish educator of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can get a taste of the story by watching this short video article from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Peter’s June 9th talk will lead into Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s powerful impact upon the social conscience of America.

The Spiritual Humanism of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Part 1
Wednesday June 10, 2020, 12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT

Peter Geffen will continue his summer series by contextualizing Heschel’s profound impact upon American Judaism in particular and American religion in general in this 2-part session. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a mystic, a 20th-century religious intellectual, and a powerful agent of social change. His poetic theological writings are still read and widely studied today across the Christian as well as the Jewish world. His faith was as much about “radical amazement” as it was about certainty. As instructive for us now is the way Heschel embodied the passionate social engagement of the prophets, drawing on wisdom at once provocative and nourishing. Peter will take us through Heschel’s fascinating life in a biographical review and then enter the world of Heschel’s thought through presentation of a developmental model based upon Heschel’s teachings. The sessions will require the viewing of a unique 1/2 hour television interview which will be made available to you on Youtube.


The Spiritual Humanism of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Part 2

Thursday June 11, 2020, 12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT

Peter Geffen will continue his summer series by contextualizing Heschel’s profound impact upon American Judaism in particular and American religion in general in this 2-part session. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a mystic, a 20th-century religious intellectual, and a powerful agent of social change. His poetic theological writings are still read and widely studied today across the Christian as well as the Jewish world. His faith was as much about “radical amazement” as it was about certainty. As instructive for us now is the way Heschel embodied the passionate social engagement of the prophets, drawing on wisdom at once provocative and nourishing. Peter will take us through Heschel’s fascinating life in a biographical review and then enter the world of Heschel’s thought through presentation of a developmental model based upon Heschel’s teachings. The sessions will require the viewing of a unique 1/2 hour television interview which will be made available to you on Youtube.

About Peter Geffen
Professionally a Jewish educator, Peter founded The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City in 1983, considered unique in its integrated approach to curriculum and its social justice programming. Today, the Heschel School is the largest pluralistic Jewish school in North America with over 1000 students on its campus on the west side of Manhattan. In the 1990’s he began working with Jewish day schools across the continent that sought to model all or portions of their programs on the Heschel educational model. Today there are schools in Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Toronto, Canada and Lafayette, CA that reflect his educational vision. His career in Jewish education began with his design of the unique and unprecedented Park Avenue Synagogue High School program in 1967 where he served as Principal until 1985. In the field of informal education, he held a range of leadership positions (including decades of senior staff roles with Camps Ramah in Canada, Glen Spey and Israel). He has personally taught 1000’s of high school and college aged students over the past 50+ years!

In 2005 Peter Founded KIVUNIM, a year-long post high school/pre-college gap-year program based in Israel and studying about and traveling to 12 countries (from Morocco to India) studying the origins and integration of Jewish life and culture throughout the world. The program seeks to build “world-consciousness” as a context for strengthening Jewish identity, formed as it is from the magnificent history of the Jewish people amongst the nations of the world. KIVUNIM is the only Jewish educational program teaching Arabic and traveling into the Arab and Islamic worlds.

In the summers of 1965 and 1966 Peter Geffen served as a civil rights worker for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Orangeburg, SC. He played several historic roles at MLK’s funeral including accompanying Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel throughout the funeral procession.

In 2012 he was selected to receive the Covenant Award, the highest recognition in the field of Jewish education. Peter holds a BA from Queens College (where he studied and developed a close personal relationship with the noted Jewish historian Professor Cecil Roth during the final years of Roth’s life), an MA in Religious Education from New York University and a Certificate in Psychotherapy and Counseling from the Alfred Adler Institute in New York City. He is an ABD (all but dissertation) at NYU with a thesis linking the seminal work of Erik Erikson in Identity formation to his Jewish educational philosophy and approach.

He is married to Susie Kessler, founding Director of the Makom Mindfulness Center at the JCC in Manhattan. They have three children: sons Rabbi Jonah Geffen married to Julia Mannes and Rabbi Daniel Geffen, married to LuAnne and daughter Nessa Geffen, Assistant Director of the JCC Camp Settoga and married to Micah Bookman. They have 4 grandchildren, Bina, Shula, Eva and Gabriel.

Peter was born, raised in and has lived in New York City throughout his lifetime. He is a descendant of distinguished and learned Jewish families on both sides: his grandfather Rabbi Tobias Geffen, “Chief Rabbi” of the South 1910-1970, father Rabbi Samuel Geffen, Uncle Rabbi Joel Geffen and numerous rabbinic Geffen cousins and on his mother’s side from Great-Grandfather William Fischman – Founder and President of the Downtown Talmud Torah, President of the Upper West Side’s The Jewish Center for over 40 years and distinguished philanthropist of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

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